Friday, June 20, 2014

Informant claims one of Alcatraz escapees is still alive

Alcatraz Island
Carol Highsmith photo, Library of Congress
An unnamed informant says one of the three men that escaped from Alcatraz prison in 1962 is still alive and "has done a lot of good in the world since escaping."

The claim was made in the wake of the publication earlier this week of a story on a possible connection between the Jackson County town of Greenwood and the 1962 "Escape from Alcatraz." That article included details about how local and federal investigators searched the Greenwood area in 1989-1991 after receiving credible information that two of the men had been living in the vicinity.

Clarence Anglin, 1960 (FBI)
An eyewitness in 1989 said that she knew one of the escapees, Clarence Anglin, and told the U.S. Marshals Service that he was living on a secluded farm near Greenwood, Florida, along with a second man that she thought might be Frank Morris. She did not mention seeing John Anglin, who was Clarence Anglin's older brother and the third participant in the escape. Other eyewitnesses over the years have reported seeing John Anglin as well and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was not able to rule out John as the person who wrote a check to an Alabama store in the 1960s.

Please click here to read the original article: Greenwood and the Alcatraz escape.

The information from the informant is as follows:

Greenwood from the air.
Nice post. Once of these men is still alive, both have lived full good lives that did not include a return by either of them to a life of crime and have raised wonderful families. There are a few details you conveniently left out of your story that reveals more about them on a personal note and circumstances that landed them in Alcatraz. The conditions they experienced were horrible and when given a choice they took a chance as opposed to suffering. Neither ever made excuses for what they did but they have lived good Christian lives and done a lot of good int he world since escaping.
When both have passed on there are arrangements to tell there story for the benefit of others.

John Anglin, 1960 (FBI)
The statement is intriguing because it matches closely with information developed from other sources.

Those sources indicate that the escape was successful and that two of the men succeeded in crossing San Francisco Bay to Angel Island and the Marin Headlands. From there they were picked up by car and eventually made their way back east to their old home turf in the "Wiregrass" area of Southwest Georgia, Southeast Alabama and Northwest Florida.

Other sources also indicate that one of the men has passed away but that one of the escapees remains alive and is now in his 80s, that he has raised a family and that he has avoided further trouble since the time of his escape.

Frank Morris, 1960 (FBI)
The new informant notes that the story posted here earlier this week about a possible Greenwood connection to the escape did not delve into the circumstances that landed the men in Alcatraz. This was due to a space limitation, so look for a more in-depth account on the lives of the three men this Sunday here at

I normally do not post statements from anonymous informants, but found this one particularly interesting because the information provided matched so closely with what I have been able to learn from other sources.

You can read the original article at

Sunday, June 15, 2014

New photo of Ghost of Bellamy Bridge?!

Does a photo taken last week on the Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail near Marianna show the legendary Ghost of Bellamy Bridge?

Shortly after taking the cell phone photo, the photographer - who has asked to remain anonymous - noticed a strange anomaly in one part of the image. An enlargement of that section of the photograph shows what appears to be the face of a young woman surrounded by what could be described as a veil or shroud.

The mysterious "face" that appears in the anomaly is complete down to its eyes, ears, mouth, nose and even eyebrows.

The photograph was taken at the overlook where the heritage trail reaches Bellamy Bridge. You can examine the image yourself below. Please share your thoughts!

To learn more about the Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail, please visit

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reservoir Dogs star leads cast of new Marianna filmed monster movie!

Michael Madsen has appeared
in more than 170 fims.
Noted actor Michael Madsen, perhaps best known for his role as Mr. Blonde in Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs", is on location in Marianna, Florida, for the filming of the new action and monster movie Cobragator.

Now being filmed at various scenic locations in and around Marianna, Cobragator tells the story of a battle against a hideous and deadly creature that is part cobra, part alligator. Film crews have already been at work at Florida Caverns State Park and Merritt's Mill Pond.

Madsen has appeared in more than 170 films including Kill Bill, Sin City, Die Another Day, Donnie Prasco, The Getaway, The Doors, Thelma & Louise, Wyatt Earp and Free Willy. It was Reservoir Dogs, however, that catapulted him to top status as an actor. He is expected to star in another Tarantino film - The Hateful Eight - later this year.

Madsen was "Mr. Blonde" in Reservoir Dogs
The brother of actress Virginia Madsen, he is the son of a retired firefighter. He grew up admiring actors Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum and once laughed that he was loved by children for his role in Free Willy while their parents were terrified of him due to his role in Reservoir Dogs.

Cobragator is the second movie to film in Marianna and Jackson County this year. Coming on the heels of Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre which filmed during the winter, it is a sign of the increasing popularity of the area's caves, crystal clear spring water and spectacular natural settings with filmmakers. While they obtain pristine natural settings and clear water in which to film underwater scenes, they are bringing a significant economic impact to the community.

Conservative estimates indicate that the two films have brought hundreds of thousands of dollars in new money to the local economy. Filmmakers have rented blocks of hotel rooms for weeks at a time, while also contracting with local businesses for everything from spa treatment for actors to help from Cave Adventurers in filming underwater scenes. Local restaurants have benefited from catering contracts as well as daily visits from cast and crew.

Sources familiar with negotiations for future projects indicate that as many as six more movies are in the works for Marianna and Jackson County.

Here are links to DVD's of some of Madsen's other films:

Reservoir Dogs

Free Willy (Keepcase)

Donnie Brasco (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray]

Thelma & Louise (20th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

Wyatt Earp [Blu-ray]

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Another Horror Movie filming in Marianna, Florida!

Talent on location for Cobragator at Florida Caverns
Photo by Pam Fuqua, Jackson County Tourist Director
Update: New Marianna movie to feature Reservoir Dogs star Michael Madsen.

For the second time this year, a movie company has filming under way in Marianna and Jackson County, Florida.

The film this time?  Cobragator!

The Horror Movies website reports that the movie is being produced by iconic filmmaker Roger Corman and directed by Jim Wynorski. It will be of the same "B" horror movie format as "Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre" which was filmed in Marianna over the winter and is now in post production.

Filming underway at Florida Caverns State Park
Photo by Pam Fuqua, Jackson County Tourism Director
Film crews and cast were on location today at Florida Caverns State Park, filming deep underground in Florida's only public tour cave. Other locations for filming will include Merritt's Mill Pond.

The filmmakers are being assisted by Cave Adventurers on the mill pond, which provides numerous services attractive to move companies interested in filming in Jackson County. Headed by noted diver Edd Sorenson, Cave Adventurers operates on Merritt's Mill Pond and offers instruction for divers, guide service, pontoon boats and more.  With their assistance, filmmakers can access the depths of Blue Springs and other locations famed for their crystal clear waters.

Park Manager Chris Hawthorne with movie talent
Photo by Pam Fuqua, Jackson County Tourism Director
Florida Caverns State Park is also providing assistance to the project, which is expected to have a significant impact on the local area. Combined with "Sharkansas" earlier in the year, "Cobragator" continues the effort to bring movie production and hundreds of thousands of dollars of economic impact to Marianna and Jackson County.

Roger Corman, the producer for the new movie, is a fixture in the horror movie industry.  Here is a list of some of his previous projects:

  • Death Race
  • Attack of the 50 foot Cheerleader
  • Dinocroc vs. Supergator
  • Cyclops
  • Supergator
  • Dinocroc
  • Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song
  • Asphalt Wars
  • Black Scorpion (TV series)
  • Macon County Jail
  • Baby Face Nelson
  • Munchie
  • Frankenstein Unbound
  • Bloodfist
  • Screamers
  • Piranha
Cobragator filming underway
Photo by Pam Fuqua, Jackson County Tourism Director
Jim Wynorski, who is reported to be directed "Cobragator", also has a long track record of similar films.  Here is a sampling:
  • Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre (in post production)
  • Not of this Earth
  • The Return of Swamp Thing
  • Transylvania Twist
  • Fire from Below

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

#73 Mission San Carlos (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

View of Lake Seminole from the Mission San Carlos site
A long-forgotten Spanish mission that stood on a hilltop near Sneads is #73 on our list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Please click here to see the entire list as it is unveiled.

The first attempt by Spanish missionaries to convert the Chacato Indians of Jackson County to Christianity ended in disaster. Less than one year after two missions and a part-time church were established west of the Chipola River, the Chacato rose up against the priests and drove them from the area in 1675.

Restored fort at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee
Spanish authorities responded by sending soldiers and Apalachee militia from Fort San Luis at present-day Tallahassee. The towns and fields of the Chacato were burned and the people forced to flee into the woods. Many eventually joined the Alabama/Coushatta (Coosada) towns of the Upper Creeks near Montgomery, Alabama.

The Chacato who had converted to the Catholic faith, however, remained behind and relocated from western Jackson County to the high hill overlooking the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers near present-day Sneads. Spanish documents first refer to their presence at this site in 1680.

Jim Woodruff Dam from Mission San Carlos site
Because the group of Christian Indians came primarily from the destroyed village at Mission San Carlos (in Washington County), they named their new village San Carlos as well. The chiefs appealed to the Spanish for a new friar to lead them and in 1680 the name of Mission San Carlos appeared in official documents.

For the next 16 years, Mission San Carlos or Senor San Carlos de Chacatos was the most outlying Spanish settlement and Royal outpost in Florida. This gave it critical importance as the launching point for numerous exploration and diplomatic parties that entered western Florida and Alabama during the years 1680-1696. Among these was the 1686 diplomatic mission to the Upper Creeks led by Marcos Delgado and the 1693 crossing of the Florida Panhandle by the exploration party of Governor Don Laureano de Torres y Ayala.

Restored Spanish church at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee
Life at Mission San Carlos for the American Indians who lived there consisted of farming, fishing and hunting, as well as Catholic Mass in the chapel. The mission likely had a smaller version of the restored church that can be seen today at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. The priest lived next door in a convento or residence.

The arrival of the English in South Carolina, however, spelled the doom of Mission San Carlos and its peaceful inhabitants. The English wanted slaves to do heavy labor in the development of their American colonies and arranged to purchase captives taken by the Creek Indians for that purpose. With slave trading now a profitable enterprise, the Creeks set out on a series of raids against the mission settlements in Florida, rounding up men, women and children to be taken to Carolina and sold into slavery.

The church at Mission San Carlos was smaller but
probably constructed in a similar manner to this one
at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee.
It is a little known fact that the first large group of slaves in the American colonies were peaceful Christian Indians from Florida. Between 1693 and 1706, the Creek slave raids wiped out the Timucua, Apalachee, Chacato and other tribes that had lived in Florida for hundreds of years. The captives wound up living in slavery as far north as New England.

The Creeks first attacked Mission San Carlos in 1693. The church and homes were looted and captives taken. The raid did not destroy the settlement, but severely damaged it. The mission's days, however, were numbered.

Spanish friars served at Mission San Carlos in 1680-1696.
Creek warriors returned to Mission San Carlos three years later in 1696. They destroyed the Chacato village, desecrated the church, looted the settlement and made off with a large number of captives to be sold as slaves to the English. The remaining inhabitants scattered into the woods and swamps.

Mission San Carlos was never rebuilt after this 1696 raid. A village named San Carlos was established near modern Tallahassee a short time later and populated by Chacato refugees from the Jackson County settlement. That community, in turn, was destroyed by raiders in 1702-1704. Some of the surviving Chacato fled to St. Augustine. Others made their way west to Mobile Bay where they soon settled near the French, who also practiced their Catholic faith. Their descendants live in Louisiana and Texas today.

Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail
(Click to Enlarge)
A major historic site, Mission San Carlos is now Stop #3 on the Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail. A new 150-mile driving tour of important Spanish colonial sites in the county, the trail begins and ends at the historic Russ House & Visitor Center on West Lafayette Street in Marianna. Free guidebooks are available there.

An interpretive kiosk for the mission site has been purchased by the Jackson County Tourist Development Council and was erected this morning (6/4/2014) by the Jackson County Parks Department with assistance from the Town of Sneads and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Learn more about the Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail by visiting